Culling decisions: Need advice please!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by anniemary, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. anniemary

    anniemary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    I have 19, year-old hens and 17 five month old chickens yet to be sexed (although I think I see about 2-3 roos). The younger chickens were hatched from the hens this spring. We also have two handsome year old roo's.

    All last year, I was getting 12-18 eggs/day from my older hens (even in the winter!). Since the beginning of August, my egg production has dropped from 12 down to 6 down to 2 we got yesterday.

    We were planning on butchering the younger chickens and filling our freezer. Now with my egg production low, I'm wondering if I should butcher the older hens and keep a few younger ones for egg laying.

    We also obtained 3 geese who are now three months old and have become EXTREMELY obnoxious. They are loud and peck at some of the chickens when I throw out feed. We plan on butchering them too.

    Questions:

    Do you think the geese are the cause of my drop in egg production? If so, would getting rid of them bring back eggs and prevent me from having to butcher the older hens?
    Should I butcher the older ones and keep the younger ones?
    If we choose to keep our older roo's and the younger hens, would you eat eggs fertilized so closely in the family line? We don't mind eating fertilized eggs, but daddy/daughter? ewwww? [​IMG]

    Please help! I'm a newbie to this stage of the game and would really appreciate some flock management advice.

    Thank you!!!
     
  2. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2010
    Are you sure your hens aren't just going into a molt? Egg production will drop of or even cease during a molt. I think around a year to 18 months is the age for their first "big molt", but that doesn't mean they'll just go bald all at once. (though some do go through a really rough molt and get quite bald looking! Others can just randomly drop feathers and not even seem to look like they're molting much at all, but are) Do you see more feathers lying around the coop/run? Inspect the birds, do you see a lot of new feather growth (quills?) under the remaining feather fluff?

    Your younger birds will molt when they hit a certain age, too....but they may skip a heavy molt given their age and the time of year right now. Then they'll molt yearly.


    I'd process whichever ones you decide... the year old hens will return to laying after they finish the molt (if that's what they're doing), they're still young enough to lay well for quite some time. The younger ones are ONLY about 6 months or so younger, correct? So, you'd not be gaining a huge difference in laying time/life expectancy.


    I see no problems with the eating of fertilized eggs just because of the relationship of the chickens. I suspect many people have chickens/roos related to each other...siblings or parent/offspring. The only thing I see as a problem with inbreeding would be after a few generations, there may be lower hatch rates, possible chick deformities or weaker stock... because no 'new blood' would be introduced to the lines. I'd just introduce a new roo from unrelated stock after 2-3 years to solve this problem. But, no issues with eating the eggs either way.
     
  3. anniemary

    anniemary Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2009
    Why yes, we went into the coop the other night and found piles of feathers!

    I'm confused about molting, though because many of my hens have bare backs. I can't tell if it's the same hens or different ones at different times, but almost half of my flock has had bare backs for months and months (since last summer I think), even before our egg production dropped. We thought it was the roosters being too tough on them. They are BO's.

    Perhaps it's my best egg layers that are now in molt.

    I'm also curious how people can determine which hens are good producers and which are not.

    Thank you for your help! I'll chalk this up to molt and process the younger birds.

    Gosh, thanks again!! [​IMG]
     
  4. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hens can certainly be barebacked from the roosters... how many Roos do you have? A good ratio is about 8-10 hens for each rooster.
    Some hens may become "favorites" and look really rough, especially if there's too many roos to hens.
    Wait... I just saw where you said you had two roosters. That shouldn't be too many... the barebacks are probably favorites and just get "abused" too much.

    It could get worse during a molt, since they're losing feathers from the molt, and the roos could be ripping/breaking off others.
    Since they aren't laying right now anyway, I'd be tempted to separate the roos, if possible, and let the girls grow their feathers back nice and thick... at least give them a 'head start' and maybe help prevent it from getting so bad, so quickly.

    Usually, after their first molt, the eggs get a little larger, too.


    It sound like a big molt... it's the time of the year for it, they're the right age for a 'big one', too. Egg production will return. [​IMG]
    It's not a bad idea to give them a little extra protein during a molt to help with feather growth.

    Having no eggs is a pain, but it's good for the chickens to have a break from laying nearly every day...rebuild their 'supplies and energy', and get some new feathers that are nice and fluffy for winter! It sure would be nice if they didn't all decide to do it at the same time, though, huh?
     
  5. ND

    ND Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 20, 2010
    Oh, and I forgot to mention!

    Now would be a good time to check and treat for any lice/mites AND to deworm them, too.
    Since there is usually an egg withdrawal time for the eggs (7-10 days), and you should toss the eggs that many days after the last treatment, since they're not currently laying (or laying much!), there's very little waste of eggs!

    If they've never been dewormed, I'd use Wazine (treats roundworms only though) and follow up in about 2 weeks with something that'd get any other buggers.


    I'd make sure they were totally free of lice/mites with the new feather growth... come to think of it, it COULD be part of the bareback problem...some of the lice/mites only eat on the feathers. They're super hard little things to see... usually found around the vent/tail... part the feathers, look very closely at the skin around the vent and into the tail. They will range in color from straw colored to reddish/brown. Best time to check for mites is at night, pulling them off the roost and looking closely with a flashlight. Mites live in the coop/roosts/cracks and 'attack' the birds at night. You may still find some on the birds during the day, but night will be your best bet. IF you see these, the coop is their hiding/breeding ground and will need treated WELL, VERY WELL... as well as the birds, with a follow up every 10 days until they are eliminated. (as eggs hatch)

    Lice are usually more stray colored, live their lives on the bird...lay eggs on the feather shafts (white clumps near the skin on the shafts)... look around the tail, vent, and lower back.


    They're small, some are quick moving... think just a little bigger than specks of dust sometimes. Sometimes you have to really examine for a few minutes before you might see a 'patch' of them scatter when you expose them to the light. But definitely check at night with a flashlight for most mites... you'll find the most of them on the birds then... if they have an infestation.


    (and, if you haven't used any preventatives/treatments for all this time... you'll likely find them! Mites/lice are just one of those things that crop up a lot. Wild birds, etc, "replenish" them often, and your best course of action is having good prevention/treatment plans in place)
     
  6. Mtn Cur

    Mtn Cur Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If I were you, I would put the geese in the freezer and leave the chickens alone.
     
  7. kakayona

    kakayona Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:what they said.[​IMG]
     
  8. Mattemma

    Mattemma Overrun With Chickens

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    I would butcher the geese too. My hens laid less eggs after I introduced the 16 week old teens to the flock.Too busy pecking everyone to lay eggs! If you are set on butchering some of the chickens I might cull some young AND some older ones.
     
  9. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    This time of year it could be a combination of things! Heat ( my girls go on strike when it's above 90* they still aly but now well) snakes(they can get in and out of a coop thru a space as small as 3/4" ), molt (not much you can do about this) and stress (could be a predator stalling them, your dog barking/chasing them or the introduction of the new pullets etc) for just a few.. I would never send a yr old hen for not laying they should have another few yrs of laying! If you want eggs --geese lay eggs too..LOL
     
  10. arch_cpj

    arch_cpj Chillin' With My Peeps

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    sounds like a molt when I set up a flock I buy it in 2 parts 1/2 about a month or 2 apart that way Im pretty unlikely to have the whole danged flock molt at once!!!
     

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